Predicitions for the End of the World from 1908 to 1954

About a variety of people's predictions and beliefs for the end of the world coming between 1908 and 1954.



Remembering a prediction he had made after coming out of a trance at the age of 12, Lee T. Spangler, owner of a grocery store, said the world would end in fire in October. His followers waited with his chief priestess in Nyack, N. Y.-he had gone back to his wife and business in York, Pa.-but the only event was a light rain on the last day of the month.

FEB. 13, 1925

Margaret Rowan, a young California girl, claimed that the Archangel Gabriel had told her the end of the world would take place at midnight on Friday, Feb. 13, 1925. Her prediction was met by a spate of suicides. A New York house painter named Robert Reidt placed large advertisements in New York newspapers inviting the faithful to join him on a hilltop at the hour of doom. The group-all dressed in white muslin robes-waited, and exactly at midnight threw up their hands and chanted, "Gabriel, Gabriel, Gabriel!" When nothing happened, Reidt blamed the failure on newspaper photographers' flashbulbs.


The Prophetical Society in Dallas said the end of the world would come in that year, but believers were disappointed.


Pyramidologists again claimed that their calculations showed the end of the world in this year.

OCT. 30, 1937

Although very few realized it at the time, Oct. 30, 1937, may have been the closest the earth has ever come to being totally destroyed. The huge asteroid Hermes, traveling at tremendous speed, missed the earth by a mere 500,000 mi. A fraction of a degree's difference, and none of us would be here.


The pyramidologists were wrong again.

JAN. 9, 1954

The Children of Light was a Canadian religious sect based at a farm near Keremeos, about 30 mi. from Vancouver. Their leader, Mrs. Agnes Grace Carlson, announced on Dec. 26, 1953, that the end of the world would come the following Jan. 9. She collected 35 faithful converts, including 8 children, in a farmhouse and awaited the final day. They passed their 17-day vigil by singing hymns and sitting in awed silence while Mrs. Carlson sought inspiration. On one occasion a six-year-old boy whose father was inside the house kept shouting for him to come out. A voice from within informed him his father was dead. "All right," he called, "I'll see him in a few days." The day came and went. Meanwhile, the local school had obtained summonses under the School Attendance Act, and when the local sheriff called to serve them, the farmhouse congregation quickly dispersed.

MAY 24, 1954

An Italian adage that "Rome and the world are safe, so long as the Colosseum stands" brought mass hysteria to Italy in 1954. On May 18, engineers were alarmed by huge cracks appearing in the 1,800-year-old amphitheater. Someone suggested the sign had come, and set the day of destruction at May 24. Thousands besieged the Vatican, hoping that the pope would absolve them from their sins. Despite a sharp rebuke from a Vatican prelate, who also added, "The world will see Tuesday and more Tuesdays to come," thousands appeared in St. Peter's Square on May 24. The prelate was proved right, and builders were sent to repair the Colosseum.

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